Afghanistan History Overview


  • Achaemenid Empire
  • Wars of Alexander the Great
  • Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
  • Mauryan Empire
  • Indo-Scythians
  • Indo-Parthians
  • Kushan Empire
  • Sasanian Empire
  • Huna people
  • Kidarites
  • Alchon Huns
  • Hephthalite Empire

MIDDLE AGE (565–1504 CE)

  • Sharukh Mirza. They were the biggest patrons of art in Herat
  • Ghaznavid dynasty
  • Ghurids dynasty
  • Timurid Empire
  •  Kabul Shahi dynasties ruled the Kabul Valley and Gandhara from the decline of the Kushan Empire in the 3rd century to the early 9th century
  • 7th Century Islam was introduced, pre-islamic art was forbidden, only Arabic alphabet was allowed (Umayyad Dynasty) 
  • 8th Century Abbasid Caliph reign movement to free khurrasan started- independence from Arab domination by Abu Khurrasan
  • 8 C.E Tahir Foshanji of Herat became the 1st independent monarch in midevil Afghanistan
  • 8 C.E emergence of dari literature – Hanzala Badghisi 1st dari poet
  • 9-10th century Dari literature was sophisticated and completed w/ Arabic literature (Ghaznawid & Ghorid)
  • 13 CE Genghis Khan emerged & attacked and destroyed Bamiyan and all of Shahr-e Zohak (Red City) the entrance of Bamiyan
  • 14th Century Timur Shah defeated Genghis Khan. His wife was Gowharshad begam 

MODERN ERA (1504–1973)

  • Mughal Empire
  •  Hotaki dynasty
  • Durrani Empire
  • Barakzai dynasty
  • Reforms of Amanullah Khan and civil war
  • Reigns of Nadir Shah and Zahir Shah
  • Democratic Republic and Soviet war
  • 1747 Consolidated into one Kingdom by Ahmad Shah Durrani. Empire from Amu darya in Herat to Punjab

CONTEMPORARY ERA (1973–present)

  • Mohammad Sardar Daoud Khan seized power in a non-violent coup on July 17, 1973, while Zahir Shah
  • Democratic Republic and Soviet war


  • The predominate religion in Afghanistan is Islam which 99% of the population follow.
  • A follower of Islam is referred to as a Muslim.
  • Friday is the Muslim holy day. Most shops and offices will be closed. Government offices and businesses may also close on Thursday, making the weekend Thursday and Friday.
  • The Afghan Muslim population is divided into two denomination Sunni and Shia. Sunni


  • Muslims are approximately 85% of the Afghan Muslim population.
  • They represent a branch of Islam that came through the khalifah, which started with Abu Bakr, who was the first Muslim ruler after the Prophet Muhammad.
  • The Sunni Muslim accepts Abu Bakr as a righteous and rightful khaliph.
  • The Sunnis use the term Imaam  is synonymous with the term khalifah.
  • A khalifah may be elected, or nominated by his predecessor, or selected by a committee, or may acquire power through military force. A khalifah need not be sinless. It is lawful for a person of inferior qualities to be made a khalifah while persons of superior qualities are present.


  • Shi'a makes up 14% of the Afghan Muslim population.
  • Shi'a Muslims adhere to what they consider the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the religious guidance of his family whom they refer to as the Ahlul Bayt.
  • Shi'as consider the first three ruling khaliphs of Islam a historic occurrence and not something attached to faith.
  • Shi'a Muslims believe that the prophet had appointed his son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib as his successor.
  • Only the Shia's believe in the institution of Imaamah. Literally, "imaam" means a leader. 
  • Shia's believe an Imaam is a person appointed by God and introduced by the Prophet and then by each preceding Imaam by explicit designation to lead the Muslim community, interprets and protects the religion and the law, and guides the community in all affairs.

Afghan Ethnic Groups

  • Major Ethnic Divisions: Pashtun 52%, Tajik 25%, Uzbek 6%, Hazara 12%, Other 5%;
  • Minor Ethnic Division: Chahar Aimaqs, Turkmen, and Baloch.
  • Religious Affiliations: Sunni Muslim 84%, Shi'a Muslim 15%,
  •  Other (Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, Christians) 1%.


  • Pashtun : Generally merchants, traders, farmers, and animal breeders.
  • The Pashtun are the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan and account for over half of the population.
  • They are divided into tribal and sub-tribal groups to which they remain loyal. 
  • These tribal divisions have been the source of conflict among Pashtuns throughout their history.
  • Pushtun cultural centers tend to be in the eastern and southern portions of the country.
  • Most speak Pashtu and are mostly Sunni Muslims


  • Tajiks are town- dwelling traders, skilled artisans, farmers and herders.
  • Many Tajiks are prosperous enough to be regarded as middle and upper class citizens.
  • The Tajiks are considered Afghanistan’s educated elite and tend to be wealthy. Although Tajiks hold significant political influence and power, they are not the dominant group in Afghanistan.
  • Tajiks are mostly Sunni Muslims, speak Persian and live predominantly in the northeastern and western part of the country. 


  • Uzbek: Uzbeks are farmers and stockmen, breeding the karakul sheep and an excellent type of Turkman horse.
  • Descended from the Central Asian Turks who frequently invaded from the north. Many Uzbeks fled into northern Afghanistan in the 1920's to escape the suppression when the Soviet government was trying to stamp out their customs and Muslim religion.
  • Hazara: Hazaras occupy the lowest socioeconomic bracket in Afghanistan. They are generally very poor and practice farming and herding. Speak Farsi and are mostly Shia Muslims and some Sunni's as well


• Hazaras are the most economically deprived group in Afghan culture and have much less status than other Afghan ethnic groups.

• Forced by the controlling Pashtuns to live in the barren mountains of central Afghanistan.

Beliefs About Time Usage: Work

• The type of work that people engage in is divided along ethnic and regional lines in Afghanistan.